Hiring International Students

Why consider international candidates from Engineering?

  • Illinois is consistently ranked among the top Engineering programs in the world, attracting some of the globe’s best and brightest. Excluding international students from the candidate pool means missing out on 37% of our top caliber students.
  • Our international students are fluent in English and at least one other language, many of which are target languages in key markets of today’s global economy, particularly the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Many of our students have access to networks in their home countries that can be beneficial to your company’s business objectives.
  • Having made the decision to study and live away from home for an extended period of time, International Students have a good degree of resilience, perseverance, and adaptability – important qualities in today’s workplace.
  • Our curriculum requires students to routinely work on projects in teams, so our students have practical experience working under strict deadlines and in teams of diverse individuals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I hire students on an F1 or J1 visa for an internship?

Yes, you can hire F1 students for an internship as long as the internship is relevant to the student’s field of study.  Your company does not need to sponsor the student or fill out any special paperwork.  All you need to provide the student is an offer letter as you would with domestic hires.  The student will then be responsible for working with International Student and Scholar Services and Engineering Career Services at Illinois to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT).  The application process takes five business days from the date of submission, if the application is complete.

If your company has an office in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Research Park, you may alternatively hire students on an F1 visa through the Office of Corporate Relations’ Internship Program. For more information on this program, please contact Megan Puzey, mpuzey@illinois.edu.

You can hire students on a J1 visa through Academic Training (AT).  Again, your company does not need to sponsor the student or fill out any special paperwork.  All you need to provide the student is an offer letter just as you would with domestic hires.  The student will then be responsible for working with International Student and Scholar Services at Illinois to apply for AT.  Students can apply for AT during or after their program of study.  The duration of their work authorization depends on the length of their program, up to 18 months.  For example, if a student’s program lasts 12 months, the student would only be authorized to work in the U.S. for 12 months.

Can I hire students on an F1 or J1 visa for full-time positions?

Absolutely!  You can hire an Engineering student who is on an F1 visa for up to 29 months (12 months standard work authorization plus 17 months STEM extension).  All you need to provide the student is an offer letter.  The student is responsible for applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) through International Student and Scholar Services through Illinois.  While your company does not need to sponsor the student,  your company must be an E-Verified company for the student to apply for the 17-month STEM extension on their OPT.

You can hire a student on a J1 visa after they have completed their program.  This can be done through Academic Training (AT).  The student is responsible for applying for AT through International Student and Scholar Services at Illinois.  All you need to provide the student is an offer letter as you would with domestic hires.  Your company does not need to sponsor the student or fill out any special paperwork.  The duration of their work authorization depends on the length of their program, up to 18 months.  For example, if a student’s program lasts 12 months, the student would only be authorized to work in the U.S. for 12 months.

For more information on hiring students on an F1 or J1 visa, check out http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/hiring-international-students-recently-graduated-from-us-schools.html

Is my company obligated to apply for an H-1B visa or Green Card on behalf of the international student if we hire them under OPT or AT?

No, your company is not required to apply for an H-1B visa or Green Card if you hire an international student on OPT or AT.  Even if the student decides to return to their home country after their stint with your company, you now have access to a potential network in the student’s home country.

My company is willing to sponsor an international student for an H-1B visa, but the risk of not being approved for the visa due to the quota is unattractive.  What alternatives are available to hire an international student full-time?

  • H-1B1 — for citizens of Singapore and Chile
  • TN — for citizens of Canada or Mexico
  • E-3 — for citizens of Australia
  • O-1 — for individuals with extraordinary abilities in their field

There are no quotas to TN, E-3 and O-1 visa categories. There are 6,800 H-1B1 visas available, but that limit has never been reached.  To learn more about alternative visa categories to H-1B, visit http://www.natlawreview.com/article/h-1b-cap-freeze-out-alternatives-foreign-professionals.

 

This page has been prepared in consultation with International Student and Scholar Services at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Sean G. Hanagan, Attorney at Law, Jackson Lewis P.C.